(originally published Oct 4,2014 on Loreall’s Nerdy Mind)
A newly uncovered 16th century headstone in Naples’ Piazza Santa Maria La Nova, could belong to Vlad the Impaler, aka Dracula. It was found in the same graveyard that holds his daughter and son in law. But why in Italy and not Transylvania?
Dracula, which means son of dragon, was born into nobility as Count Vlad Teppes in 1431. He disappeared battling the Ottoman Empire in 1476. He was believed to have died but research from the University of Tallinn now suggests he was actually taken prisoner by the Turks and held for ransom. Documents show his daughter Maria, who was married to an allied Italian nobleman, paid his ransom and brought him to Italy.
The tombstone was discovered by Erika Stella, who was investigating the cloister of Santa Maria Nova in Naples for her thesis. She noticed the unique symbols on the grave which did not fit those of Italian nobility. It turns out the grave is covered in images and symbols of the Order of the Dragon, to which his royal Carpathian house belonged. Medieval history scholar Raffaello Glinni said ‘The dragon means Dracula and the two opposing sphinxes represent the city of Thebes also called Tepes. In these symbols, Dracula Tepes, the very name of the count is written’.
The researchers have since applied for official permission to investigate the grave.